Campus Cards, College and University Identification and Security

Columnist: Biometrics in schools may pose privacy issues

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As schools in the United States begin implementing biometric data gathering to expedite processes such as lunch payments and bus rides, Anita Ramasastry writes on Justia that parents should also be concerned with privacy issues surrounding gathering this information on children.

Ramasastry notes that a small number of schools around the nation are implementing the Palm Secure biometric palm scanner as a means for students to make purchases in the school cafeteria. The palm scanner converts the palm image into an algorithm, which then ties students to their purchases. Some schools are also planning to implement biometric data gathering to track when students get on and off school buses.

While schools may see this type of data monitoring as a way to save money and increase efficiencies, Ramasastry points out that it may have great privacy implications in terms of how the data is and can be used. If a system can track and monitor children’s movements to great detail, the information may be used by police for law enforcement purposes.


Ramasastry notes how school systems have flubbed in implementing systems without enabling parents to opt-in or opt-out their children first. She also warns of desensitizing children to this type of data gathering by gearing these systems to young children who may not question the privacy implications behind the data gathering.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign a bill that would ban biometric in schools throughout the state. In this latest edition of the Regarding ID podcast, legislators detail why they think a ban is necessary instead of providing an opt-out provision. Senator Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange) says the biometric ban is intended to protect students from having their identities stolen even though she admits that there is no recorded instance of a biometric database being breached and used to steal an individual’s identity.  

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Lincroft, New Jersey’s Oak Hill Academy has installed the Fujitsu PalmEntry access control system at access points across its 20-acre campus. Oak Hill Academy administrators chose the PalmEntry solution for its dependable, non-intrusive biometrics technology. The academy currently registers its fifth through eighth grade students in the PalmEntry system along with all faculty and staff.

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The much-publicized biometrics bill in the state of Florida – SB 188 proposed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange – has passed through he House without any additional amendments. The bill awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature before becoming law.

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